Rapa Nui Language...
Another mystery of the Rapa Nui culture

Rapa Nui family at Mataveri airport.
Rapa Nui family at Mataveri airport - © Daniel Moore

The Pascuense or Rapa Nui language belongs to the Austronesian language family spoken in islands throughout South East Asia and the Pacific, comprising Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic, Polyneasian and Eastern Polynesian.

It is believed to be spoken by a small amount of people - perhaps less than 2,000 in Easter island and the continent - being a sub-group of the Eastern Polynesian, which also includes Marquesic and Tahitic languages.

There is, however, another mystery awaiting to be deciphered in this tiny little island lost in the South Pacific.

On top of the already mysterious moai statues - of unknown purpose but widely accepted that they were built by the Rapa Nui people themselves and then abruptly stopped the moai building culture - is the Rongorongo language.

Rongorongo is a writing system based on pictographs, hieroglyphs carved into oblong wooden tablets found in the island. This was recorded as early as 1864 by Father Joseph Eyraud.
Rongorongo language disappeared as abruptly, two reasons would have contributed to this, early European colonizers (missionaries) - afraid of a language they couldn't understand - ordered natives to destroy the tablets.

The second reason is related to the decline of the Rapa Nui culture, when the island's population got decimated - almost extinct, for several reasons - around 1877. To learn more about the history of Easter island please visit Easter Island Facts and Easter Island.

Only twenty five Rongorongo tablets exist in the world today. Even though several attempts have been made to decipher the language for over a century now, they have defied all explanations, and continue to be a challenge to linguists, archaeologists and anthropologists alike.

Beyond all this historical facts, when you are ready for some Easter Island vacations, please take the time to learn some basics of the Rapa Nui language and you'll be greeted by the natural warmth of Rapa Nui culture.

Rapa Nui dance. Easter Island
Rapa Nui dance. Easter Island - © Daniel Moore

To learn more about Rapa Nui language, please visit damninteresting.com.


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